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Meet The Family: Michael Johnson – Zeal Hamilton Manager

Micheal began his youth work career working for Specialized Care Services in Wellington, and after completing a Bachelor of Youth Development, moved to Hamilton in 2014 to work as a Youth Coach at Whai Marama Youth Services. Michael has recently joined the already strong Zeal Hamilton team, who have spent the last four years delivering high-quality programmes and events to the rangatahi in the area.

How did you first get involved with Zeal?

My first experience with zeal was at an event in Wellington in 2004 when I was in high-school. My first professional involvement with Zeal was in 2017 when both Zeal and I were helping the same young person.

What does your typical day at Zeal look like?

My typical day starts with catching up on emails and voice messages, followed by a quick catch up with the team. This is normally followed by a decaf black forrest mocha from Starbucks just to start the day right. The bulk of my day is focused on the eight different tasks that all need my attention, amongst meetings with community leaders and organisations. My favourite part of the day is the after schools. I like to take as much time as I can to hang out with our young people.

What are some epic moment you’ve had during your time at Zeal?

My epic moments are in the small conversations I have had with our young people. Listening to their thoughts, ideas, plans and goals. I have had some epic conversations with the Hamilton staff who are a phenomenal bunch of humans. I believe that we have a talent and caring staff who are dedicated to developing Hamilton, and the wider Waikato to be the creative hub of youth creativity in Aotearoa.

What’s some advice you would pass on to someone wanting to make a difference?

I think that in order to make a difference you need to make sure you are taken care of first. Ask yourself what things need your attention and make sure you have a solid self-care plan. It’s hard to make a difference when you aren’t in the right frame of mind. Next I think that you need to just show up! To make a difference you need to have boots on the ground. If there is a particular field that you are interested in, get stuck in by showing up to everything. If you want to make a difference in the lives of young people for example, find ways to get involved with what young people are doing. If you want to make changes on a systemic level, go to council meetings or public addresses. Brand yourself online and ask questions. Everybody can make a difference if they are dedicated and passionate.

What do you do in your spare time?

What spare time I have is spent being a daddy to my baby daughters and a husband to my beautiful wife. Outside of family and work life I also referee rugby and basketball plus enjoy fishing, shooting, reading, watching documentaries, video gaming, listening to music and family outings.

What bands are you listening to lately?

I have a vast and varied playlist where no two days are the same. Lately it has been Tom Misch, Loyle Carner, Stormzy, Troy Kingi, Vox Dawn, Leon Bridges amongst many, many more!

What are some places anyone visiting Hamilton should check out?

Hamilton is an up and coming art and performance hub. There are always great shows and musical gigs that come up regularly. You can easily pop down to an art exhibition, followed by dinner at one of the many fantastic restaurants, and a jazz night at Nivara Lounge. There are many other great places to experience the unique qualities of Hamilton, the city of the future.